From December 1992 to January 1993, Hank Hendrickson and Handel Evans make numerous trips between Sacramento, Washington D.C., and Long Beach (the Headquarters of California State University) to secure approvals and the necessary planning funding to move forward with campus development.
In Washington, they shuttle back and forth between the offices of the Department of Defense, the Army, the Department of Education, and the Washington offices of local government officials.
The news is not good. Both the Department of Defense and the Army have said no to the idea of gifting part of the valuable Fort Ord land to the university. Some officials that Hendrickson and Evans have spoken with are in fact adamantly opposed to the idea. While the top leadership of the Department of Defense has decreed that the bases be closed, there have been no instructions to lower-level authorities to hand the property over to civilian organizations.
Hank Hendrickson credits Congressman Norman Mineta for saving the day.
Mineta, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives representing the heart of California's Silicon Valley, and Chairman of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee, grew up in San Jose, and was once the Mayor of that city. As a member of Congress, Mineta is known for his dedication to the people of his district, for consensus building among his colleagues, and for forging public-private partnerships. Hendrickson and Evans stop by Mineta's office on a courtesy call before flying back to California, their mission a failure.
"It was our last stop before leaving Washington. Everyone had said no, to both the land and the money," recounts Hendrickson. It was at the end of the day, and Congressman Mineta was about to leave for home, where he had dinner guests waiting. Mineta asked Evans and Hendrickson about the progress of the project. When Mineta heard their discouraging reports, he immediately picked up the phone.
"Mineta first called William Perry, [then Deputy Secretary of Defense]. Then he called Jack Murtha [U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania, and then Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee]. Next, he called Ron Dellums [U.S. Representative for California and then Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee]. He spoke to each several times. His wife kept calling, asking him to come home and tend to his dinner guests. But he wouldn't go home until he had an answer.
"When we left Mineta's office, we had the land and the money."